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No! Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has not legalised marijuana

A photo shared on Facebook shows Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, on a television screen. A banner along the lower third of the screen reads: “Breaking news: Bhang is legal. Due to high reported cases of cancer bhang is legal to prevent cancer.”

"Bangi" is a Kenyan slang word for the drug marijuana, also known as cannabis. 

But did the president really legalise the drug? We checked.

Petition to decriminalise marijuana

The legalisation of marijuana has been debated in Kenya, following the death of member of parliament Kenneth Okoth

Okoth was member of parliament for Kibra, a constituency in the capital Nairobi, and supported legalisation of marijuana. 

Okoth planned to enact a law making the drug legal. Since his death from cancer, other politicians have come out in support of the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal use.

Drug still illegal in Kenya

Cannabis is still listed as a narcotic drug, according to Kenya’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act of 1994.

The act prescribes fines and jail sentences for people found using the drug or cultivating it. Land on which marijuana is grown may also be forfeited to the government.

While marijuana is still illegal in Kenya, Lesotho allows for the growth and sale of marijuana and Zimbabwe for the production of marijuana for both medicinal and scientific uses. In South Africa, the personal use of marijuana has been decriminalised. 

Photo of Uhuru faked to look like live TV

A reverse image search of the image in the Facebook post shows that it first appeared online on 14 September 2018, when it was posted on presidential spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo's Twitter account. 

In the post, written in Kiswahili, Dena-Mararo said that Kenyatta proposed that tax on fuel be reduced.

The photo was widely used by news outlets that covered the story that day.

There have been no other news reports about Kenyatta declaring marijuana legal, or agreeing to a bill legalising the drug. 

The original photo was doctored to look like a TV broadcast and the Facebook post is a hoax. Grace Gichuhi  


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